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Sunday Independent -SA
New law deprives Zimbabweans of basic liberties
By Welshman Ncube

The adoption of the Constitution Amendment Bill (No 17) by the Zimbabwean parliament on Wednesday, September 2 was a retrogressive move for the country. It will exacerbate the crisis of governance which has, within five years, driven Zimbabwe to the precipice of being a failed state. By amending the constitution for the 17th time since independence 25 years ago, the Zanu PF government has sent out an unequivocal message to the people that it has no respect for the constitution. Conversely, it cannot expect the people to take the constitution seriously; a factor that will serve to intensify the perceived lack of legitimacy within Zimbabwe's body politic in the eyes of the people. This dichotomy goes to the very heart of Zimbabwe's ills, as it symbolises the absence of national consensus on core governance issues and the total lack of public trust in the current government. A constitution should be a symbol of national unity. It should represent a contract between those in power and those who are subjected to this power. It should define the rights and duties of citizens and the institutional arrangements that keep those in power in check. To ensure its legitimacy, a constitution must be formulated in strict accordance with the principle of inclusiveness. There must be broad public participation and ownership of the final product.
The people of Zimbabwe have never had an opportunity to formulate a constitution in this context of democratic legitimacy and produce a truly national document that enshrines and protects our values and rights. We are yet to be empowered with the right to design and organise, in the collective sense, our governance and constitutional arrangements so that they are properly aligned to the agenda of realising the shared goals that defined our liberation struggle. Instead we remain lumbered with an albatross in the form of the patched-up constitution agreed to at the Lancaster House talks in 1979. This document was not an agreement among the people of Zimbabwe; it was a "ceasefire" document that flagrantly failed to include safeguards against arbitrary behaviour by the executive and infringements on citizens' liberties. The government did attempt to replace the Lancaster House model in February 2000, but its draft constitution was overwhelmingly rejected by the people in a national referendum on account of its chronic democratic deficits. The people's desire for a new constitution, which was so apparent during the referendum campaign, remains undimmed.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the people of Zimbabwe therefore hoped that the government, given the scale of problems afflicting the country and the national desire for change, would adopt a holistic rather than a piecemeal approach towards constitutional reform. By pursuing the latter route, the government has spurned a golden opportunity to begin the process of reversing Zimbabwe's political and socio-economic decline. The bill contains a number of self-serving provisions that not only further dilute the democratic content of the constitution but also ensure that it is tailored to suit the whims of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. The provision, which allows for the reintroduction of a bicameral parliament through the creation of a 66-seat senate, is designed to extend the system of presidential patronage. It has nothing whatsoever to do with improving legislative oversight but has everything to do with appeasing and accommodating disgruntled elements in the ruling party whom Mugabe is desperate to harness to his succession agenda. As a consequence, the creation of a senate is aimed at providing jobs for those members of the ruling party who are either unelectable, defeated in internal primary elections or who were rejected by the electorate in March.
This egregious development is compounded by the fact that it will place additional burdens on the fiscus at a time when the government does not have the money to buy sufficient quantities of fuel, food and other basic commodities that are essential to alleviate the suffering stemming from Zimbabwe's unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The Z$50 billion (about R13,2 million) that the government has budgeted for the senate elections demonstrates its skewed sense of priorities and provides a stark reminder of its shocking indifference to the suffering of the people it purports to govern. The bill also provides for the establishment, under the constitution, of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). In principle this is a welcome move, as the ZEC was previously a statutory body and national electoral bodies need to have constitutional backing. The problem, however, is that the ZEC, even with constitutional status, is not sufficiently safeguarded from manipulation by the executive. For instance, the president will appoint the chairperson of the commission. Moreover, the ZEC has no jurisdiction over the crucial exercise of voter registration. This remains in the hands of the office of the registrar-general, which has a track record of conducting registration on a discriminatory basis to secure political advantage for the ruling party. By failing to address concerns around the independence of the ZEC properly, the government has signalled its reluctance to reform Zimbabwe's electoral framework in line with agreed Southern African Development Community standards. Given Zimbabwe's electoral record over the past five years, this intransigence is likely to result in more disputed elections.
The failure to institute constitutional guarantees pertaining to the right to participate freely in elections is symptomatic of the insidious political agenda that lies behind this bill. This agenda becomes even more apparent when one considers the likely impact of the reform measures on private property rights and freedom of movement. The adoption of these measures indicates a renewed effort by the ruling party to strengthen its coercive grip on society. In Zanu PF's warped analysis, placing stringent curbs on fundamental freedoms is the best way of perpetuating its tenure. In the year that we are celebrating 25 years of independence, one would have expected a government which claims to be the custodian of the values that guided our liberation struggle and to be expanding our freedoms rather than placing restrictions on them. However, the government will now possess powers under the constitution to deny passports to its critics. This move is part of an integral plan to deny international platforms to its critics and seal off as many of the information arteries as possible, preventing the deconstruction of the distorting narrative peddled by Zanu PF aficionados and exposing the shocking realities on the ground.
The central tenet of the Zanu PF narrative is the disingenuous claim that Zimbabwe's crisis is anchored solely on the issue of land redistribution. The provisions in the bill covering the area of land acquisition underline the depths of the government's deception over the land issue. There can be no dispute over the need to resolve the land question. However, under Zanu PF, the main beneficiaries have been members of the ruling elite rather than the communities and individuals who were dispossessed in the first place. Land should be given back to the people it was stolen from initially during the colonial era, yet, under the reforms being enacted, state ownership of land seized from white farmers will have constitutional backing. This means that those who are resettled on their land will not regain ownership of it. This is a gross injustice and contradicts the very essence of the land-reform programme. Permanent state ownership of all acquired land must be seen as yet another control mechanism in the hands of the government. It will ensure that the resettlement exercise is conducted on a discriminatory basis, with those seen as not loyal to the ruling party denied access to land or having their leasehold agreements revoked.
Furthermore, the provision covering land acquisition, interpreted in its broadest sense, poses a direct threat to the security of property rights. The government will now possess arbitrary powers to acquire any land which is defined as "agricultural land". The deliberate vagueness of this definition means that property in peri-urban and urban areas could be at risk of compulsory acquisition if activities conducted on a property are deemed "agricultural". Under the new rules, property owners will only receive compensation for improvements made to buildings and will have no right to due process. The denial of the right to due process breaches international statutes to which the Zimbabwe government is signatory. Moreover, by removing the right of the judiciary to interpret laws and pass judgments on the activities of the executive, Mugabe and Zanu PF are further eroding one of the central pillars of constitutionalism - the separation of powers. Checks and balances are now a thing of the past. The passing of the Constitution Amendment Bill is a recipe for disaster. Neither the ruling party nor parliament had the constitutional mandate to introduce such a bill. Attempts to engage the public and to canvass their views were perfunctory. The whole process was totally lacking in legitimacy. The net result is that the government has made the crisis worse. To help tackle the crisis we need to come together as Zimbabweans and formulate a constitution in a transparent and all-inclusive manner. We all need to have ownership of the constitution and use this document as the basis for healing the divisions bedevilling our society.
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The Standard
Gono's brother accused
By Walter Marwizi

AS Gideon Gono, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), crusades against deep rooted corruption, his elder brother, Peter, stands accused of improper financial dealings which have prejudiced struggling new farmers of millions of dollars.

Disgruntled farmers whose future in the tobacco industry now looks bleak, have sought the High Court's intervention after becoming alarmed over the way Peter Tungamirai Gono, a businessman, conducts business with them.

The Standard can exclusively reveal that High Court Judge Justice Samuel Kudya has, in a provisional judgement, ordered Peter to come clean on his dealings with Shepherd Kapota and Samuel Dhliwayo, beneficiaries of the land reform programme.

The two were introduced to Peter and his wife, Dorika Pilato, who works for Burley Marketing Zimbabwe Ltd, in May last year by someone who knew the two were looking for land to grow tobacco.

Under the terms of the agreement they entered into, Peter would bankroll the project for the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons while the two would make available their seven plots at the Van Guard Farm in Macheke, covering about 60 hectares.

Peter also undertook to use the farmers' numbers, in a move that would allow them to keep track of the volumes of tobacco sold and amounts received. Peter stood to get 90% from the net profits while the farmers would receive the remaining 10%. They, however, stood to gain more since Peter had pledged in the contract to put up infrastructure such as electricity and establishing irrigation structures at Kapota's farm.

But according to court documents, Peter and his wife, who are first and second respondents in the High Court case 4112/05, reneged on the agreement.

They shunned the two farmers' numbers and obtained their own, under Reap Brite Investments, which they are using to sell tobacco.

In an affidavit, Dhliwayo said while the two had undertaken to be transparent in their dealings with him, they had failed to do so.

"1st and 2nd respondents have also resorted to ferrying the tobacco from the farm at night to avoid detection by the workers who they are apprehensive will inform us. With the current state of affairs, we do not even know how much tobacco was farmed and harvested and how much money was realised. We, therefore, cannot plan and thus our farming operations have been severely affected. We do not have any working capital for our farming operations," states the affidavit.

Dhliwayo further said Dorika worked in the finance department of the BMZ, cited as third respondent, and there was a reasonable likelihood she could tamper with records.

Dhliwayo said Peter and his wife had also refused to destroy the tobacco stumps on the field, contrary to regulations that these be destroyed by 15 May 2005.

If left to rot on the field, the stumps carry over diseases which can reduce yields and quality of the subsequent tobacco crop. Under strict agricultural regulations designed to ensure the production of high-grade tobacco, it is a serious offence not to destroy the stumps.

In a supporting affidavit, Kapota said he was owed $15m, which he personally sourced for the two from Agribank.

Granting the two interim relief, Justice Kudya ordered Peter to account for the tobacco harvested to date from the plots and sold at the BMZ.

"That the 1st and 2nd respondents render a full account of the money realised in the 2004-2005 farming season from the sales of the tobacco… supported by relevant documentation to the 1st and 2nd applicants' legal practitioners within seven (7) days of service of this order."

Yesterday, Peter who acknowledged that he was the elder brother to the Governor said, out of ignorance, they had "entered into a childish agreement nursing wild dreams.

"We thought it was easy to grow tobacco and hoped we could utilise 60 hectares. But we only planted on 18.5 hectares. We have so far spent $350m and we only got $172m. We have records, which show that everything is above board. Some of the complaints are coming because they (applicants) think we got a lot of money. There is nobody who utilised 60 hectares of tobacco this season. I would have been the richest person and on holiday right now," Peter said.

He said his lawyer had full instructions to oppose the matter in court.

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The Standard
Chombo threatens military action
By our correspondent

CHINHOYI - Irked by lack of progress in the construction of houses under the government's "Operation Garikai", the government is now threatening to set soldiers on those failing to meet the unrealistic targets set in July.

Last week, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, blasted civil servants for "dereliction of duty" and warned that soldiers would be deployed to forcibly make them perform.

Chombo was addressing senior civil servants at Chinhoyi Training Centre on Thursday.

Senior heads of department were asked to go and relay the message to their subordinates that picnic time is over.

Chombo, who was riled by the snail's pace of "Operation Garikai", furiously took to task the government heads of departments. He directed that they hand over culprits to the army who will be deployed in all the provinces and who would deal with them "accordingly". Chombo did not elaborate. Nor did he say under what law the military would be empowered to punish civil servants.

However most of the construction is being spearheaded by military personnel.

Addressing the same gathering Brigadier Nyikayaramba, who is heading the building of houses under "Operation Garikai" in Mashonaland West, admitted that the operation had failed to provide even one complete house in Chinhoyi.

But in an all familiar pattern of the blame game, he accused the British and Americans of planting "willing tools to derail the process". He said they were going to deal with them, but did not say how.

When it was pointed out that progress on construction had been slowed down because of lack of fuel, Nyikayaramba declared that fuel for the operation was available and urged the council to use police vehicles if need be.

Although 200 had been targeted for completion by 30 August, no houses had been completed.

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The Standard
Anti-graft body gets thumbs down
By Caiphas Chimhete

THE Anti-Corruption Commission, sworn in by President Robert Mugabe last week, has been dismissed as a "smokescreen creation" by those in power to cover up their corrupt tendencies.

Some analysts interviewed by The Standard said the commission's independence was greatly compromised since it was appointed by Mugabe without consultation with civil society and private sector.

Members of the commission, chaired by former comptroller and auditor-general Eric Harid, are senior assistant commissioner Casper Khumalo, lawyers Johannes Tomana and Kuziwa Nyamwanza, retired brigadier Elasto Madzingira and businesswomen Alice Nkomo.

The other members are educationist Bessie Nhandara and Juliet Machoba, the events co-ordinator of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF).

ZimRights acting national director, David Palasida, said the commissioners were appointed on the basis of "patronage rather than merit" and it will be difficult for them do deal with senior members of the governing party.

"Since it (the commission) is a government appointed commission, we as ZimRights feel that those appointed to the commission were appointed not on merit but on patronage. In any event, the majority of them are civil servants and they must be seen to be doing what their employer directs them to do," Palasida said.

The commission, which falls under the Ministry of State Enterprises, Anti-Monopolies and Anti-Corruption headed by Paul Mangwana, is mandated to investigate corruption.

Palasida said because other interested parties outside government were not consulted, nothing new could be expected from the commission.

"We are of the opinion that it is just like any other commission that has been appointed by the government with no tangible and credible results. It is like a toothless bulldog," said Palasida, adding, "generally the powers that be are the most corrupt and every ordinary Zimbabwean knows that. Those who have been known to be corrupt and are in government are not being prosecuted and or investigated."

Apart from that, the ZimRights official noted that there was no clear guideline between the parent ministry and the commission, rendering it an appendage of the executive.

Former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor, Professor Gordon Chavunduka, said Zimbabwe lacked political will to stamp out corruption.

"We should have done much more to stamp out corruption even without the commission. What we lack is political will," said Chavunduka.

The executive director of the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa, Philliat Matsheza, said the commission would only succeed if well supported.

"If you don't give them resources, it (commission) would be ineffective. If they are not given operational independence they will not be effective," Matsheza said.

Of the eight commissioners, six have well known close links with the ruling Zanu PF government while others are police officers. The Zimbabwe Republic Police has in the past been accused of being biased towards the government

Matsheza said the inclusion of police officers on the commissions was not unique to Zimbabwe. Most countries starting anti-corruption bodies recruited police officers for their investigating skills but that trend was now being phased out.

"Corruption is rather complex and in Tanzania they stopped recruiting police officers after they failed to match the required tasks because police are only trained to maintain peace and order," Matsheza said.

The Minister of State for Public and Interactive Affairs Chen Chimutengwende said the appointment of the commissioners was inclusive because the body has lawyers, businesspeople, police officers and other professionals.

"People are entailed to their opinions but as far as we are concerned it is representative. Our job is to support them so that they will be able to carry out their mandate," Chimutengwende said.

He said if the commissioners succumb to political interference they would have failed in doing their job.

Matsheza said the direction taken by government was, however, encouraging.

"We should encourage it because we are moving in the right direction. However, the commission should deal with both big and small fish," he said.

The establishment of a commission comes at a time when there is increasing advocacy from civil society on the government to stamp out corruption.

According to the Transparency International Corruption perception Index 2004 Zimbabwe is ranked 114 out of 146 countries.

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The Standard
Dissension in MDC over constitution
By Valentine Maponga

THE opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it withdrew its proposed constitutional amendments because the solution to the Zimbabwean crisis lies in a complete overhaul of the constitution.

The MDC chief whip, Innocent Gonese, said the decision to withdraw the amendments was reached by consensus.

"Zanu PF had indicated to us that they were not going to consider or pay attention to that document and it was withdrawn by consensus. As a party we have always called for an overhaul of the constitution and we had wanted to have that document as an interim constitution," Gonese said, adding, "There is nothing sinister about that document."

But MDC insiders allege that the proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting any non-degree holder from becoming President of Zimbabwe could have been a discreet attempt by an as yet unknown person in the MDC to stage a coup against party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

MDC legal and constitutional affairs secretary David Coltart was forced to withdraw the 125-page document, after the proposed amendment, which had raised eyebrows within the party, became public.

Clause 29 of the amendments titled Qualifications for the President directed that a person could only qualify to be President of Zimbabwe if he or she "holds a university degree, other than an honorary degree…"

Tsvangirai who has a trade unionist background, has no degree.

Insiders said if the proposed amendment had been adopted, it would not only have affected Tsvangirai and his deputy, Gibson Sibanda but other senior party officials.

They questioned how the party could come up with such a proposal when they were fully aware that their leader did not possess such a qualification.

By virtue of being party secretary general, Professor Welshman Ncube, would have emerged the presidential candidate for the party. He has, however, denied harbouring any presidential ambitions.

"Five out of the six top leaders of the party do not have degrees and it means the amendments were calculated at sidelining the majority of the leaders and Zanu PF would have been very happy to take on board the amendments," said one source.

Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango, last week said the MDC leader could not comment on the amendments that he had not seen and directed all the questions to Coltart.

"It makes no sense for Tsvangirai to talk about what he did not contribute to. It's better you talk to Coltart, he knows what was in those amendments," Bango said.

Coltart last week dismissed the claims saying the clause that called for a degreed president was struck off before the document was sent to Parliament. "As the party secretary for legal and constitutional affairs, I have been working with party officials and lawyers over the issue of the constitution. Within that mandate, we came up with a number of amendments for an interim constitution," Coltart said.

He said the document was as an amalgamation of contributions from the Constitutional Commission and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) drafts but after they realised that Zanu PF was not going to accept their amendments, the document was withdrawn.

"There has been a lot of distortion over that document but if you check clearly the bit that called for a degreed president was struck off. I had forwarded to Parliament both an electronic and a hard copy document but they mischievously photocopied the hard copy," he said.

The hard copy contains the clause but it was struck off with a pen by Coltart who put his signature.

Lovemore Madhuku denied that his organization, which has produced its own draft constitution, was responsible for the clause calling for a degreed President. "There is no such thing in our draft constitution and it's very surprising that the amendment is actually coming from the MDC. They are the only party that does not have a president with a degree," Madhuku said adding that the NCA wants a total people-driven overhaul of the constitution.

Apart from barring non-degreed presidential aspirants, the amendments also proposed that one can be disqualified from the office of President on attaining 65 years or holding the same office for two successive terms.

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Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2005 5:50 PM
Subject: Statement by Morgan Tsvangirai

10th September 2005

ANNIVERSARY OF THE MDC at a Rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.

We mark the sixth anniversary of the MDC in circumstances far beyond what we
expected at the party's formation in September 1999.

We meet today as a severely battered nation run by a criminal government
that no one wants to be associated with.

We have become the laughing stock of the world and our kith and kin are
scattered across the globe in search for economic security and sustenance.

Those of us at home have been thrown back into a hunter-gatherer,
subsistence society: without food, without jobs, without basic security and
without our democratic rights.

Regardless of our sorry status and disabling plight, let me hasten to state
that we are now on the home stretch.

Zimbabwe is definitely headed for a conclusion to this nightmare.

When it comes, the MDC is ready for the Zanu PF crash.

The MDC is ready to provide the essential leadership at this crucial stage
of our nation's development.

The era of piece-meal approaches to our problems is over.

We are nearing the end.

A new Zimbabwe and a new beginning shall soon become a reality.

Six years ago, some skeptics dismissed us as a joke. Six years ago, none of
us thought the regime was prepared to initiate and lead the country to
collapse and implosion just to defend their privileges and their hold onto

We knew the dictatorship was determined to hang on, but not to the extent of
smashing the people down to such a devastating level.

The assault continues in various forms. The latest being Operation
Murambatsvina whose results put the Zimbabwe story firmly back onto the
international radar screen.

Without food, without fuel, without foreign currency, and without friends,
the regime has gone full circle back to the days when the Smith regime was
isolated and sanctioned as a pariah State.

As we approach another agriculture season, the effects of the chaotic land
reform programme are becoming more pronounced and it is now almost certain
that we will be a food deficit country until 2007 whatever the weather does
to us this summer.

Zimbabweans are experiencing the impact and uncertainty of the darkest hour,
which, as you all know comes before dawn.

This regime has played a dangerous political game with people's basic
sources of support and sustenance. Commerce and industry have collapsed. Our
rural areas have become unproductive dust bowls.

Allow me, Mr. Chairman, to state categorically as the leader of the MDC that
we can no longer counsel patience among the people.

Mugabe has made his position clear: he does not see the crisis in this

Those who see the crisis must deal with the situation on the ground.

Organize and protect yourselves against this regime.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentleman, the MDC cannot take this situation any
longer. The people are at their most debased level.

The people have been humiliated through the actions of this regime. Families
are stressed and violated.

The people are badly bruised. The nation risks permanent disability.

However, we must recognize that Mugabe and Zanu PF are now weaker than at
any other time in our short history as a nation.

We must now use our unity; organization and our vision to elbow this
criminal state aside and resolve the national political and economic crisis
it has created against all local and international advice.

To do so effectively, we need to fashion key strategic re-alignments as part
of our preparations for the ultimate demise of Zanu PF.

We must strengthen our critical mass for democratic resistance.
Passive compliance with tyranny goes against the spirit of the founding
principles of the MDC. Passive compliance compromises our focus for
democratic change.

We must rally the people, the country and the international community
to achieve our objective.

We must watch for opportunists who fall for the regime's patronage and
pursue individual agendas to claim personal positions and fulfill personal

The full scale implosion before us as a nation requires the pursuance
of national objectives geared towards national renewal and far reaching
challenges based on our experiences with elections, litigation, dialogue,
mass action and the international campaign.

We are intensifying our international campaign against tyranny and
dictatorship to reclaim Zimbabwe's legitimacy.

For as long as we live without a legitimate governing authority, no
initiative can pull out of the crisis we are in - whether it is the
re-introduction of the Senate or attempts to paper over our failures as a

Our international partners and the world community at large must
ignore Zanu PF and Mugabe's antics and put together a comprehensive package
of humanitarian assistance for the people of Zimbabwe: medicinal drugs,
food, seed, support for the poor and the vulnerable and other forms of
relief. Without such assistance, millions of people here are at risk.

Our desire for comprehensive and holistic Constitutional reform
remains one of our most cherished objectives. In 2000, the people rejected
the flawed process of developing a new Constitution for Zimbabwe proposed by
the regime.

The regime has refused to honour the people's verdict. It continues to
tamper with the British-designed, Lancaster House Constitution, brought
about as a transitional arrangement at Independence.

Twenty five years after independence, it is shame on us that we find
ourselves without a home-grown guide to the way we govern ourselves which
will confer democratic legitimacy to our own governments.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, we reject the latest ploy to avoid
the critical national demand for a new Constitution by pushing through
piece-meal amendments designed to pursue partisan interests.

Those who argue in favour of the way Zanu PF approaches the need for a
new, home-grown Constitution have lost focus.

Those who wish to benefit from Zanu PF's cut-and-paste approach to
Constitutionalism are working against the wishes of the majority of our
people. They are sell-outs!

Zimbabweans have refused to settle for the lowest set of democratic
standards. Zimbabweans demand the full recognition of values, norms, rights
and opportunities in a democratic society as defined by universal custom and

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to congratulate
the people of Bulawayo for remaining steadfast in the support for democratic
change. You recently re-elected our Executive Mayor with an overwhelming

We are confident of a sweeping national victory over the dictatorship as all
indications now point directly to the demise of the Mugabe regime. The
regime is fast running out of time. The people look set to triumph, once

I thank you,

Morgan Tsvangirai

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China View
CPC delegation leaves for visit to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique 2005-09-11 17:15:12

    BEIJING, Sept. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- A delegation from the Communist Party of China (CPC) left here Sunday for an official visit to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

    The CPC delegation is led by Yu Zhengsheng, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of theHubei Provincial Committee of the CPC.

    The delegation is invited by the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy of Zambia, Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front and Mozambican Liberation Front Party. Enditem

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Zimbabwe eviction drive seen worsening AIDS crisis
11 Sep 2005 00:00:13 GMT

By Andrew Quinn
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's urban evictions violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted AIDS treatment across the country, threatening a new stage in the epidemic, a rights group said on Sunday.
Human Rights Watch called on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to investigate the campaign and accused President Robert Mugabe's government of blocking U.N. efforts to help victims.
"Massive human rights violations have taken place as a result of the mass evictions and demolitions," Human Rights Watch Africa researcher Tiseke Kasambala said in a new report on the eviction drive.
"The individuals responsible for planning and executing (the campaign) must be immediately brought to justice."
Zimbabwe launched the evictions in May, using police and bulldozers to demolish shops and residences in urban shantytowns in a blitz that the United Nations estimated cost at least 700,000 people their homes, jobs or both.
Government officials said the operation was aimed at cracking down on black market activity in poor townships, but critics said it was a political campaign against the largely urban supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party.
The United Nations, which sent a special envoy to investigate the campaign, issued a sharply critical report in July calling the demolitions both disastrous and unjustified.
Human Rights Watch said the demolitions displaced hundreds of thousands of men, women and children -- many of whom it said remain homeless.
It also said the crackdown had exacerbated looming food shortages in Zimbabwe by making it more difficult for humanitarian agencies to identify and assist those in need.
The rights watchdog said the evictions had also hobbled efforts to fight Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS crisis, disrupting home-based care and treatment programmes in a country where more than one-fourth of the adult population is infected with HIV, one of the highest rates in the world.
"The disruption of treatment programmes is likely to lead to resistance to HIV/AIDS drugs and an increase in opportunistic infections," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Mugabe's government has dismissed criticism of its eviction campaign, dubbed "Operation Restore Order", saying it was necessary to clean up Zimbabwe's cities and flush out crime and illegal trading in foreign currency and other commodities.
The government has also launched a housing project it says will see home seekers across the country assisted with constructing basic structures which they can improve on later.
Human Rights Watch slammed Mugabe's government for blocking the launch of a U.N. "flash appeal" for some $30 million to help those displaced by the evictions, saying Harare's intransigence was further victimising the most vulnerable including children, widows and people living with HIV/AIDS.
"Zimbabwe is already in a profound political and economic rights crisis -- created by a government with a well-known record of abusing its own citizens," Human Rights Watch said.
"This latest human rights catastrophe can only push the country closer to total devastation."

AlertNet news is provided by Reuters
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Khalee Times
Zimbabwe in new crisis
By Mohammed A. R. Galadari

11 September 2005

THERE'S fresh proof from within that Robert Mugabe's so-called land reform movement, which saw the driving out of White farmers in droves, has worked to the disadvantage of his countrymen. Zimbabwe, today, is in the throes of an acute food crisis.

Dear readers, such is the gravity of the crisis that the country holds only three weeks' supply of its national staple food, maize, as has been admitted by the agriculture ministry itself. "If we are not careful, there will be no food on the table next year", is how a top official explains the crisis.

The fact, however, is also that Mugabe has not learned any lesson from his past mistakes or ham-handed actions. How else would he have dared to push through legislation in recent days, arming his government with powers to nationalise White-owned commercial farms-a logical extension of his campaign for five years to seize White-owned lands and distribute them to native blacks? New legislative measures are also aimed at denying White farmers the right to approach courts for legal remedy, which is sure to be dubbed as "draconian" and lead Zimbabwe to further alienation from the civilized world.

It is that Mugabe's actions lack any rationale. While driving White farmers out, what he had failed to do-and with serious consequences-was to equip the natives with the expertise and the implements in a way as to continue to use the same lands to retain, if not to increase, the yield. Hence the present food crisis. Much of the seized lands thus remain barren today.

Experts thus term Mugabe's actions "regressive", and not progressive. That is increasingly evident from the scale of poverty, which Mugabe himself admits is troubling some 2.5 million (some say 4.5 million) of the 13 million Zimbabweans. The joblessness rate in the country is now put in the range of 70 percent-- which is baffling and at the same time a commentary on the poor style of governance. These wrong track-records are what led to the IMF warnings to  Zimbabwe, though the world financing body has given it a reprieve for six months to put its house in order and introduce economic reforms.

At one level, Mugabe is driving his own people from their homes, under fancy operations like slum clearance drives, that saw displacement of an estimated 700,000 people. The target, some say, was the Opposition. Mugabe is already increasing pressure on his rivals through other means, like the new legislative measures to restrict freedom of travel for regime dissidents. Despite international sanctions in the past, he has not learned any lesson. He hasn't given any heed to calls that the Opposition be allowed to have their due say in matters of national importance. He, instead, dubs them as puppets of Britain, the idea being to silence their mouths.

Dear readers, Mugabe wielded power in his hands for a quarter of a century after the country's independence from Britain. Looking back, Zimbabweans now may have little to feel proud about their freedom from their colonial masters.

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The Standard
State urged to help undo damage of Murambatsvina
By our staff

THE Zimbabwean government must urgently co-operate with the international community to assist victims of its controversial "Operation Restore Order", which affected more than 2.4m people, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

In a report titled, Clear the Filth: Mass Evictions and Demolitions in Zimbabwe, the report revisits the widely condemned exercise, challenging the government to seriously consider "the humanitarian consequences of the operation" which "have been catastrophic".

The HRW also calls on the international community, regional bodies and neighbouring countries to "exert far more sustained political pressure" on Zimbabwe, and "rein in the government's excesses" in the execution of the clean-up exercise.

It describes the magnitude of destruction caused during the operation as "unprecedented".

"There are few, if any precedents of a government so forcibly and brutally displacing so many of its own citizens in peacetime. The victims are mainly the poor and vulnerable in Zimbabwe's cities and towns, many of the households already devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic," reads the report.

Despite criticism the government has remained defiant and unmoved by repeated threats of isolation by the international community.

If nothing is done within the shortest possible time, says the report, this will "push the country closer to total devastation".

Like the UN report before it, the HRW report calls for the government to immediately "provide assistance including alternative accommodation to those affected, and legal remedies including appropriate compensation or other forms of reparation to all those affected in a speedy, impartial and transparent manner".

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The Standard
Bulawayo schools face closure due to water shortage
By our staff

BULAWAYO - Water shortages in Bulawayo have reached such critical levels that 32 schools in the city face closure just a few days after opening. School authorities and council officials this week held marathon meetings and resolved that council bowsers be allocated to schools.

The council pledged to supply each school with 600 litres of water daily.

Council resource s are overstretched as the authority is already making daily water deliveries to affected suburbs in the city.

Teachers, who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity, said they feared an outbreak of diseases if schools were allowed to continue operating without water.

The worst hit suburbs in the city are Emakhandeni, Entumbane, Luveve and Magwegwe.

Residents in the suburbs are resorting to using unprotected sources for drinking water and are relieving themselves in the bush, posing a risk of disease outbreak in the city.

The council, desperate to contain the critical situation has also sought help from Vice President, Joice Mujuru, in the construction of a pipeline between Mtshabezi and Mzingwane dams in a bid to improve pumping of water from the two dams.

According to council documents, councillors have come up with several stringent measures aimed at controlling the use of dwindling water supplies.

The measures include reducing water supplies to construction sites under "Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle" and introducing strict water rationing and hefty fines for residents who abuse water.

The council has proposed other measures to combat water shortages which include a request to government for Bulawayo to be declared a water shortage area, and to request the Ministry of Water Resources to sink and repair more boreholes at the Nyamandhlovu aquifer.

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The Standard
Threat to Harare's ecosystem
By Caiphas Chimhete

FOR most people resettled at Hopley Farm in Harare, selling firewood to nearby high-density suburbs has become a lucrative business.

"This is the only business I can do because I have no capital to start any other project. For this, I just need an axe," said Alfred Marwa, pointing to a pile of wood he was selling, just outside the farm.

He has a ready market in Waterfalls, Glen Norah and Highfield where more people are turning to firewood, which is the cheapest and most easily affordable source of energy.

A few metres away, hordes of people, mostly women, could also be seen with bundles of wood balanced on their heads, as they headed for the nearby high-density suburbs.

Wood poaching, which has been worsened by a combination of load shedding, high electricity tariffs and the resettlement of people at farms such as Whitecliff and Hatcliffe where there is no power, has resulted in massive deforestation in and around Harare.

Environmentalists warn that this "reckless" clearing of trees might lead to deforestation, posing a serious threat to the city's water bodies and ecosystem.

Environment Africa (E-Africa) branch manager, Barnabas Mawire, said urban deforestation remained a major threat to Harare's water bodies.

Mawire said forest clearing for agricultural purposes and city expansion should be properly planned to avoid "contamination" of sources of water as well as disturbing the ecosystem.

"Increased agricultural activities were also causing massive deforestation, as people clear land to plant crops. This leads to soil erosion and ultimately to the siltation of water bodies," Mawire said.

A dense forest just after Harare's Msasa area towards Mabvuku, where a few months ago people gathered wild fruits for resale, has virtually disappeared.

A programme officer with the Municipal Development Partnership (MDP), Takawira Mubvami, said deforestation was causing the siltation of small streams and rivers that feed Lake Chivero, reducing the amount of water the lake can hold.

Other than causing blockages of water pipes, more financial resources would be required to purify water for drinking.

"Because of siltation, aquatic life is threatened. Apart from that, loosing a variety of trees that support other living organisms disturbs the whole ecosystem," said Mubvami, adding that deforestation also leads to global warming.

The Department of Natural Resources deputy director, Moses Mandisodza, said wood poaching was increasingly becoming difficult to stamp out because of urban poverty. "We are trying our best but it is very difficult because people have limited alternative sources of energy. Paraffin is not always available," said Mandisodza.

He said the department, together with other government agencies, was carrying out awareness programmes to discourage people from cutting down trees or cultivating along riverbanks and wetlands.

Preservation of natural resources, Mandisodza said, was difficult because some people derived their livelihood from selling firewood.

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The Standard
Bulawayo runs out of burial space
By our staff

THE Bulawayo City Council is racing against time to find alternative burial space as cemeteries fill up fast, The Standard can reveal.

Most of the cemeteries, especially those available to low income earners, now have limited burial spaces likely to be full by December.

Dr Zanele Hwalima, the city council's director of health services, confirmed to The Standard the shortage of burial space. "The City of Bulawayo has five cemeteries, two of which are full and have been closed for use by the public except for second interment or for reserved plots," she said.

The remaining burial space at Luveve is rocky and difficult to excavate and may be closed by December, she said. Cemeteries already closed are at Hyde Park and Athlone.

Sections of the West Park cemetery still in use are filling up fast while Lady Stanley Avenue, reserved for pioneers, now has a small burial area remaining.

Hwalima said council had since started looking for alternative space, in areas such as Pumula South and across Umguza River.

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The Standard
Mutare traders unhappy with flea market site
By our correspondent

MUTARE - Cross-border traders in Mutare who once operated flea markets at Meikles Park are unhappy with a new site they have been allocated by the local authority, The Standard has learnt.

Meikles Park is right in the centre of Mutare while the new site the traders have been allocated is two kilometres from the city centre.

The Meikles Park Flea Market was destroyed during "Operation Murambatsvina".

The traders have been operating from Green Market for a month now but say business is very low as they are no customers.

Humphrey Hamunyari, the spokesperson for the traders said some have not registered any sales ever since they were allocated the new selling stands.

"Some traders have not made any sales and yet we are paying rentals of $56 000 every week," Hamunyari said. "The place is far away from town and customers say they can not afford the commuter fares."

Hamunyari said customers couldn't afford to pay twice in order for them to come and shop at the new site. "Commuter operators are now charging $8 000 for a single trip to town so our customers now prefer to do their shopping from shops in town," Hamunyari said.

Hamunyari said they were now appealing to the city council to find them a site in town where they can attract more business.

The vendors said they were also under constant threat from fruit and vegetable vendors who used to operate from Green Market. "These vendors come and harass us and threaten to beat us if we don't move out because they claim that it's their place," Hamunyari said.

No comment could be obtained form the housing director Stenard Mapurisa who is on leave while his deputy, Elizabeth Bepete, did not return calls.

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The Standard
Cardiff's nook for homesick Africans
From Foster Dongozi in Cardiff, Wales

CARDIFF, Wales - Homesick Africans who have had to switch to a European diet for a long time can now heave a collective sigh of relief after enterprising women brought Africa to this Welsh capital.

They have opened shops where they sell foods from various African countries.

One such shop which caters for Zimbabweans and Southern Africans is Batanai, located in central Cardiff and is run by Abigail Katsande and her husband, Tapiwa.

Upon walking into their shop, there is a distinct sense of being somewhere in Zimbabwe.

The pleasant aroma of maputi wafts towards you as soon as you walk inside.

On one shelf, is an array of bottled lagers from Zimbabwe, among them Pilsner, Castle, Bohlingers, Lion and Black Label.

Bottles of Mazoe drink are also arranged nearby as are packets of Tanganda tea leaves.

Remember Sun Jam, which at one time was a must-have product during Christmas for most Zimbabwean families? It can also be found at the Katsandes' shop.

Abigail says they realised that a lot of people working or studying in Wales needed familiar food or products to fight homesickness.

"You will be amazed at just how happy people become to get food that they are familiar with. It is all a part of being homesick and we believe we are helping people who are experiencing that strain."

Among some of their regular clients are South Africans who favour the biltong that the Katsandes sell.

Batanai, together with five other shops specialising in African food, opened six months ago.

One such woman proprietor is Janet Symmons, a Ghanaian.

Symmons, who started living in the Welsh capital in 1981, established Xquisite Africa, also six months ago.

"Since 1981, I could not get African food in Cardiff because nobody was supplying it. This meant the few Africans living here had to travel all the way to London or Birmingham where there are large African populations, to buy African dishes."

Her visits to the two cities also gave her an opportunity to have her hair attended to.

The idea of setting up a shop that would supply African food, clothes and jewellery first came up in 1985.

Her patience paid off in the last five years as the city's African population has rapidly increased.

"The increase was partly due to the large number of African students who enroll at Cardiff University every year. In addition, there are people in Cardiff who have worked in Africa, especially Zimbabwe and South Africa who like the food and clothes from the continent."

Another group of people, who are potential customers, according to her last research, are mixed marriage couples in which one of them is of African origin.

With research indicating that there were enough people with African links to sustain her business in Cardiff, Janet officially launched Xquisite Africa, on City Road.

While other business enterprises are easily categorised by the goods and services they offer, the same cannot be said of Xquisite Africa and a sprinkling of similar shops. They offer just about any services that may be required by home sick Africans.

When asked what services she provides at her shop, Symmons says: "I sell African food from West Africa and that includes yams, cassava, hot chillies, ground corn, sweet potatoes, fish, jewellery, clothing, carvings and any services that people with links to Africa may require."

A tiny room adjacent to her small shop is a hive of activity as several women and men are catching up on the latest gossip while their hair is being attached to.

The hair salons for African hair, according to Symmons, are a money spinner.

"African hair is very unique and this means we cannot just walk into any salon in Cardiff and have our hair attended to. We have to go to known people or salons where our hair can be done."

The need for hair care has seen the emergence of a small group of people with skills to attend to African hair.

For Symmons, although it is not more than a year since she set up shop, she is already excited about the prospects.

"I have not done badly so far and the future holds a lot of promises," she says.

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The Standard
Zimbabwe backtracks on ACHPR session
By our staff

ZIMBABWE has backtracked on its earlier offer to host the 38th session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), The Standard understands.

Zimbabwe's delegates at the last session of ACHPR made a request to host the 38th session but did not follow up with a formal request in writing.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said the government had changed its position, leaving Gambia to host the session, which runs from 21 November to 5 December 2005.

Chinamasa said: "We withdrew the bid two months ago because of financial constraints. We told them that we could not host the event."

But in a telephone interview from Banjul, ACHPR legal officer Robert Eno said Zimbabwe had not formally made a request to host the session.

Eno said that at the last session Zimbabwe said it was considering hosting the next session.

"They indicated that they were considering hosting the next session but later indicated that due to circumstances beyond their control their were unable to host the summit," Eno said.

Analysts say Zimbabwe had avoided submitting a formal request in writing, fearing the wrath of the Commission because of the controversial "clean up" operation.

The operation drew the ire of the international community prompting the UN secretary general to send a special envoy to assess the impact of the "clean up" blitz.

Anna Kajumalo Tibaijuka was in the country in June and produced a damning report on "Operation Murambatsvina".

The African Commission also sent an emissary Bahame Tom Nyandunga.

Nyandunga, a member of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights and Special Rapporteur responsible for refugees and asylum seekers, was snubbed while in the country. He eventually slipped out.

He will produce a report to be tabled at the 38th ordinary session.

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The Standard
Failing to plan is planning to fail

ZIMBABWEANS never learn. The country stares another season of man-made food shortages because of inherent incompetent planning for the farming sector.

Less than a month before the onset of the rainy season, Zimbabwe is waking up to the reality that it will not have enough seed for the season; that there will not be enough fertiliser or chemicals required to power the much-heralded "agrarian revolution" from merely being an impressive plan on the drawing board to an achievable reality, and that the unavailability of fuel will mean a real crisis because of farmers' inability to undertake farming activities.

Last week farmers were already predicting a disastrous farming season, meaning the current food shortages will be with us for much longer than had been anticipated.

Fertiliser manufacturing companies said they had not been able to secure foreign currency to import the necessary inputs for the manufacture of fertiliser. Consequently factories were idle because there is no fertiliser being produced.

There is even a shortage of disc harrows for tractors.

Farmers normally buy their farm inputs during the months of July and August. The absence of inputs on the market right now will complicate planting preparations and consequently affect the hectarage under crops.

Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the region has been reduced to a basket case dependent on food imports - thanks to failure to anticipate and plan, which has saddled the country with shortages of seed, fertiliser, chemicals and farming equipment, threatening next year's crop even before planting has started.

This is the first disastrous agricultural season Zimbabwe has faced, but during the past five years the need and urgency for proper co-ordinated planning for the agriculture sector has been crying out for attention. Sadly those in charge either have no time or the interest to notice what is happening because they do not queue for anything. When and if they eventually do, there will be nothing left of this once great country that held so much potential for being a model for the continent. This is the worst season Zimbabwe has faced in the 25 years of its independence.

While fertiliser companies say their production plants are idle and their warehouses empty, seed houses warned that only half of the total amount of seed required is available. For the first time in the history of this nation there will be hunger not because of climatic conditions, but because of bungling by people whose job it is to plan and provide for this nation.

Last week's increase in the cost of fuel will play havoc with the farming sector, as it will with just about every facet of life in this country.

Zimbabwe has the dubious distinction of being the only country that has consistently failed to plan and anticipate food shortages. The greatest tragedy of it all is that there are no indicators that it has learnt anything during the past five years.

Despite the unfolding crisis, Zimbabwe continues in a denial mode and spurns international efforts at mobilising food aid to help its starving population. It defies logic what it is that drives such insensitivity.

The irony is that Zimbabwe is the only country where the number of its farmers has swelled while its production has plummeted.

But being ever so adept at finding excuses, the government was last week pleading that the reason for the crisis was the absence of competent farmers, who could power growth in the agricultural sector.

The government does not listen and it does not have the will to learn. On countless occasions we, among many others, have proposed that graduates of agricultural colleges in the country be the first beneficiaries of its misnamed "agrarian revolution". The impact of providing these graduates with land for production would have been revolutionary. Production would soar, while more opportunities for downstream industries open up. And so would employment creation. Today we have neither of these.

The government is now calling on the private sector to assist, yet the government conveniently forgets that it sponsored and unleashed its invaders to shutdown farmer training centres dotted around the country in the name of "empowering the masses". Empowering them with hunger? The government has no shame! The government has promised $287 million to new farmers - the same beneficiaries who have squandered state support over the past five years. These farmers have rewarded the government by buying the latest vehicles on the market and outdoing each other at being either "cellphone" or "weekend braai" farmers - anything but agricultural production.

The government could use this week's United Nations General Assembly in New York, to launch an appeal for international assistance first for farming inputs and secondly for food aid. This way Zimbabwe can cease being a burden to the international community by next harvest. The government can not go it alone because it simply does not have the capacity and resources to tackle the crisis it has allowed to fester for too long. It will not meet the Millennium Development Goals without the assistance of the international community.

If Zimbabwe cares about meeting these goals, it will launch an appeal. That will not be a sign of weakness, rather it will indicate that it cares for and has the interests of its people at heart.

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Mail & Guardian -SA
Zimbabwe confident about settling IMF debt

Harare - Zimbabwe would have paid off most of its debts by the time the International Monetary Fund revisits the country in six months, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa said on Saturday. Murerwa said that the global lender on Friday allowed Zimbabwe a six-month reprieve before deciding whether would or not it would cancel its membership over unpaid debt. The decision was taken at a meeting in Washington, by the IMF's executive board. The board said the six month period would also give Zimbabwe a chance to implement sound economic policies and cut down on its arrears. Zimbabwe had been threatened with expulsion from the IMF over hefty arrears of around $175-million. In a suprise move last week, the country paid $120-million to the IMF in an attempt to stave off expulsion. However, it still owes $175-million. "I am happy Zimbabwe has been given another lifeline. We will look at ways in the next few months to cut down on more of our debts and patch up our relationship with the IMF," Murerwa said. "The IMF has applied its mind. We have improved economically and will continue to do so." Murerwa said Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono had convinced the Fund that expelling Zimbabwe would not be in the "best interest of its people". He also said they were looking forward to the proposed loan South Africa has, in principal, agreed to give Zimbabwe. "South Africa is a very good friend to Zimbabwe. I am sure it will give Zimbabwe some money. I'm (also) confident an agreement will be signed soon," the Minister said. He said while his country still had "many hurdles to overcome", it would emerge triumphantly "as it always had".

Zimbabwe president, in Cuba, decries IMF
By Andrea Rodriguez

Havana - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe arrived in Cuba on Saturday,
criticizing the International Monetary Fund, even though the organization a
day earlier deferred a decision for six months on whether to expel the
African nation. Mugabe blames Western sanctions and boycotts for many of his
country's problems, including 255 percent inflation and 80 percent
unemployment, and says powers influential in the IMF have imposed the
strictures. The international lending organization is "willed by the big
powers which dictate what it should do," Mugabe told reporters. "We have
never been friends of the IMF and in the future we will never be friends of
the IMF." But last week Zimbabwe made a surprise $120 million payment on its
IMF debt of $295 million and the international lender deferred for six
months whether to expel Zimbabwe, saying the arrears payment and economic
changes figured in the decision. In Harare Saturday, Zimbabwe state radio
called the postponement an "achievement against all odds" because of what it
said was a campaign against the United States and Britain and others
"opposed to Zimbabwe's economic turnaround." The European Union, the United
States and leading Commonwealth countries including Australia and Canada
have imposed sanctions against Mugabe.
The IMF suspended aid to Zimbabwe in 1999 after disputes over unbudgeted
expenditures, the value of its currency and the cost of its participation in
the war in Congo. Within a year the World Bank and the African Development
Bank followed. By 2001, Zimbabwe had stopped making payments on all foreign
loans. Two years later, the IMF suspended the country's voting rights and
began the process that could lead to the country's expulsion. "IMF is almost
never a real assistance to developing countries," Mugabe said after arriving
on the communist-run island, which withdrew its involvement with the IMF
many years ago. Mugabe, making his ninth visit to Cuba since 1978, said he
was looking forward to meeting with his ally and "brother," President Fidel
Castro. Zimbabwe's economy has been in free fall since March 31
parliamentary elections, widely seen as fraudulent, gave Mugabe's Zanu PF 55
of parliament's 120 elected seats. The IMF board said the deferral gives
Zimbabwe with a further opportunity to strengthen its co-operation with the
IMF in economic policies and payments.
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Players lambast incompetent Zimbabwe board

Martin Williamson

September 11, 2005

Zimbabwe's professional cricketers have issued a statement which slams the conduct of the board, accusing it of being "at best incompetent, and at worst, a bully". Coming on the eve of Zimbabwe Cricket's AGM in Bulawayo tomorrow and the first Test against India on Tuesday, it represents a embarrassing slap in the face for Zimbabwe Cricket. It also rubbishes the official line that there is no disharmony between players and board.

While the players made it clear that they were not prepared to go on strike, explaining that doing so would not be in the interests of the game inside Zimbabwe, the tone and length of the statement left no doubt that they have no faith in the senior administrators.

At the heart of their anger are the unilaterally-imposed performance-related contracts announced by the board last week and a resulting newspaper article purporting to reveal the seemingly high remuneration packages on offer. The players clearly feel that the article was planted by the board and that the figures were deliberately misleading. Clive Field, the players' representative said: "ZC appear content to use the media to sensationalize the sensitive issue of remuneration."

They are also livid that despite having several months to negotiate and come up with a mutually-agreed deal, the board has implemented something which was not discussed at very short notice.

Only three players - Heath Streak, Tatenda Taibu and Andy Blignaut - were offered long-term deals, while the others were put on performance-related short-term contracts which made no allowance for seniority. The 12-month packages on offer made no allowance for the hyperinflation prevalent inside Zimbabwe, and ZC refused to link the payments to the reserve bank rate.

Already upset at the way this was handled, ZC then announced on the eve of an ODI against India that the offer to three players - Stuart Carlisle, Barney Rogers and Neil Ferreira - had been withdrawn and no reasons were given. The players continued with the match but a request for more information remains unanswered.

"Our position is that this directly and adversely impacts player confidence," Field said."It reveals an administration which is at best incompetent, and at worst, a bully. In the continued absence of sound reasons from ZC, such action amounts to intimidation of the player body."

As things stand, the contracts remain unaccepted by the players, who said they are "playing on trust". ZC has said that new contracts will be supplied by September 14, but the impression is that the players have little faith that this promise will be answered.

The sums on offer also differ wildly from those claimed by ZC - according to Field, match fees are now 25% of what was on offer six months ago in South Africa. Furthermore, Zimbabwe's draconian tax rates seriously erode the sums, and the lack of international cricket played by Zimbabwe means that the potential amounts quoted are almost certainly not likely to be achieved. ZC, they claimed, had also removed perks such as vehicles, DSTV and BUPA, all of which were in place on the 2004-05 contracts.

Damningly, the players concluded by asking whether the administration of ZC had also been cut. "If we as players are being told to tighten our belts, what is ZC itself as an administration doing in the same vein?" Field asked."What salaries are being paid by ZC to themselves? If it is deemed by ZC to be in the public interest to splash players salaries around the press, then presumably they have no objection announcing their own? We look forward to receiving details.

"We are concerned that ZC should be held accountable for a set of performance criteria which measure its revenues and management of its finances in a transparent and responsible manner for the betterment of the game."

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

The players' statement in full :

Statement by Clive Field on behalf of Zimbabwe's players

September 11, 2005

The Independent article dated September 9, under the banner: "The Money Zim's Cricketers Are Refusing" is misleading, irresponsible and inaccurate. It is unhelpful to cricket in Zimbabwe and internationally. Zimbabwe's professional cricketers have asked me to respond to this irresponsible reportage on their behalf, as they are in the middle of the VideoCon ODI Triangular series and Croco Motors Test Series against India. Sensationalist reporting of their performance pay - stating they receive "over $500 million for a Test win''- is false, poorly timed and counter-productive to Zimbabwe's performance, both as individuals and a team.

We are involved in delicate contract negotiations with the ZC, and are not comfortable now having to respond in the Press. Our position as players is that our involvement with cricket should be concerned with events on the pitch, not those off it, but irresponsible media stories which misrepresent the facts and the events have reluctantly forced our hand.

The ZPCA wish to place on record the following facts at the outset:-

1. No cricketer representing Zimbabwe in the above program of international cricket is contracted by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC). All 2004-05 National Cricket Contracts expired on August 31, 2005.

2. ZC purported to impose a one-month extension of the 2004-05 National Contracts by writing individual letters to what ZC termed those players involved on the "current tours", and indicated to them that new contracts would be offered from October 1, 2005. This was rejected by the players because no reasons were given for the extension. In law, extensions amount to a material variation of any existing contract, so prior consent is required from both parties because any contract is a binding consensual agreement. It follows that variation/s cannot be imposed by either party without prior agreement. In this case, consent was not sought by ZC, who simply imposed the extension.

3. ZC has subsequently undertaken to supply new contracts on September 14, backdated to September 1, 2005. (September 14 falls during the 1st Test against India.)

4. On September 1, ZC unveiled their Player Contracts Structure for the 2005-06 season, in terms of which they indicated in writing their intention to offer 12-month time-specific National Contracts to three players - Taibu, Streak and Blignaut - and 27 Level One Contracts. They also named eight Apprenticeships, to be attached to and paid by companies. Retainers on the 27 Level One Contracts ("monthly retainer") were set at $20 million per month gross across the board (i.e. there was no provision made within Level One for differentiation based on seniority or experience.) Retainers on the three National Contracts would be separately negotiated by ZC with the three individuals concerned, and the eight apprentices would be paid by companies employing them, subject to stipulation that ZC could call up any apprentice/s for national duty.

5. ZC refused a request by ZPCA to inflation-proof monthly retainers. The players had suggested "indexing" of retainers because Zimbabwe is suffering from hyperinflation and the contracts are for 12 months. Thus we requested that ZC link retainers to an agreed currency mechanism (i.e. equate the retainer to a "hard currency" and then use the Reserve Bank Official Auction Rate to track movements monthly and adjust the retainer in line with any change in the Auction rate.) ZC refused.

6. The ZC announced details of Match Fees and Incentive Performance payments for national matches, based on individual performance ie personal runs, wickets and catches.

7. On September 2, ZC advised our Player Representative in writing that they had reversed their intent to offer contracts to three players on the list of 27 - Stuart Carlisle, Barney Rogers and Neil Ferreira. They withdrew those offers without providing reasons. The players were told this on the eve of Zimbabwe's ODI v India. We agreed to continue with that match despite grave concerns, and asked ZPCA to write to ZC seeking urgent clarification for their action. No written response from ZC has been forthcoming. One player, Craig Wishart (who had been offered a Level One Contact) advised the National Coach, Kevin Curren, that he could not continue playing cricket because of this unfair treatment of other players by ZC.


For the record, this represents the current "state of play". In summary:

Going forward
Through our Player Representative and the ZPCA, we continue to seek urgent clarification or resolution of the following list of seven concerns:

1. Why have new contracts not been produced by ZC? No Worker should be compelled to work "on trust", as we are. Since Zimbabwe's Test v South Africa in March 2005, ZC have had five months to prepare new player contracts by August 31, 2005. ZC reneged on their undertaking to offer new contracts by August 19. Then ZC introduced a new demand, citing the need to ensure that new contracts were performance-based, and stated this would necessitate the redrafting of contracts, which would only be made available on September 14.

Our position is that ZC had sufficient time to complete and finalize new contracts in advance of the expiry of those then in force. As Administrators, ZC may be entitled to set performance criteria for players but they too should have performance criteria to meet. Are ZC operating in good faith by with-holding contracts?

2. The figures peddled in the press regarding Player's Match Fees and Incentives are sensationalist and designed to paint players in a negative light.

Our position is that ZC appear content to use the media to sensationalize the sensitive issue of remuneration, but in doing so ZC should as responsible employers be required to qualify the Fees and Incentives quoted and to provide information which places the data in its international context.

We must therefore set the record straight. By way of comparison, our information suggests that Match Fees in the SA national side six months ago were approximately four times more than those being offered to our national players now. Our studies also show that a National Contract Player playing national cricket for Zimbabwe for the next 12 months i.e "performing" on the international stage, at an average personal performance level will earn approximately 1/3 of the amount he would earn for playing English County cricket for one season, approximately six months. Is it any wonder why Zimbabwean players such as the Flower brothers, Murray Goodwin, Ray Price, Travis Friend and Sean Ervine are presently choosing to ply their profession abroad? We must put the position into its international context, because we are talking the business of Zimbabwe being in international cricket. International cricket is a market place.

Playing cricket for a living has its own set of demands, and specific skill set and years of training go into producing an international cricketer, who must rise to the "big time" through the ranks of amateur ranks - where no, or at best low, pay is on offer.

Further, we believe that ZC in publicizing these Fees and Incentives in "The Independent" should have pointed out that the figures quoted:-

1. are "Gross", in other words subject to tax at one of the highest tax rates in the world; 2. have been over-stated by almost 50% by using an implied exchange rate of Z$35000 to 1 USD when the Official Reserve Bank Auction rate is 24,520; 3. are substantially incomplete because there is no information included pertaining to the Zimbabwe "A" Team or Domestic cricket competitions, the point being that only 11 cricketers will have the opportunity to earn the figures quoted, and then only if selected for Test or ODI duty. Furthermore, Test Wins, Test Hundreds and Ten wicket hauls are rare over an individual's career, especially in Zimbabwe. If incentives are not realistic, they act as disincentives.

Finally it must be taken into account that the career of an international cricketer is not long, only rarely lasting beyond a decade. People in salaried employment may expect to work for 40 or more years. Player remuneration must be viewed and understood in this context. Zimbabwe Cricket has no Provident or Benevolent Fund for its cricketers, and does not offer benefit years or Golden Handshakes on retirement.

3. To have meaning, any performance package must be predicated upon a published and agreed Fixture List, detailing the National Fixture program, "A" Team Fixture Program and Domestic Fixture program.

As of now, ZC can only confirm one national tour for the 12 months ahead (West Indies - May 2006). No other definitive guaranteed information on future tours has been produced by ZC despite our requests. It is therefore impossible to determine whether sufficient fixtures will be available to give a realistic chance for every National, Level One and Apprentice player to earn Match Fees and Incentives. We await confirmation of the Test and ODI international fixtures which have been confirmed to take place between now and the West Indies Tour in May 2006, plus evidence of Zimbabwe's engagement in any A team competition (although the Duleep Cup in the Asian sub-continent and the Castle Bowl in SA have been mentioned).

Without a clear and agreed match itinerary, any performance-based package is meaningless, just "pie in the sky".

4. ZC has stated publicly that they are committed to "rebuilding cricket". The 2005-6 Contracts framework unveiled last week flies in the face of this.

We say this because 10 National Contracts have been reduced to three. Further, the previous grading system (which recognized seniority and experience) has been abandoned and the reclassification of all except three National players in the same grade (Level One) is crude and not conducive to maintaining the much-needed experience of senior players in the game, players we might add who have won international matches in Zimbabwe colours. How can it be that their experience is no longer valued? Team work is all about blending youth and experience. To compete, one cannot only be fleet of foot, one must also be blessed with wisdom. We have information suggesting the National Grading exercise of players was concluded more than a month ago by ZC's Contracts and Grading Committee and was radically different in format to that unveiled now. Why?

Our position is that ZC's 2005-06 contract framework is bad news for the future of player numbers in Zimbabwe, to the extent that it threatens the sustainability of professional cricket in this country. Thus, it jeopardizes the many years of hard work done by proud servants of the game in this country to gain us "Test status".

5. The decision by ZC to withdraw its Offer of Level One Contracts to Carlisle, Rogers and Ferreira without reason and only one day after making them, is of grave concern.

Our position is that this directly and adversely impacts player confidence. It reveals an administration which is at best incompetent, and at worst, a bully. In the continued absence of sound reasons from ZC, such action amounts to intimidation of the player body. As a direct result, it has already caused Wishart to withdraw his services. This reduces the Level One numbers from 27 to 23.

We query how players are expected to "perform" when they are subject to such arbitrary action? Carlisle is the most capped International player on the Level One list, Rogers was the "Player of the Series" on the recent Bangladesh tour and Ferreira topped the batting averages in the last Logan Cup series and has just forced his way into the Test side. All are model professionals.

While on this subject, we further question why ZC has overlooked players of the calibre of Nkala, Gripper, Vermeulen and Marillier in announcing the 2005-06 structure. What value does ZC place on experience, and the need to retain this in the system? What, if any, initiatives are ZC pursuing to entice players such as the two Flowers, Goodwin, Ervine, Friend and Price to return to Zimbabwe cricket?

6. The $20 Million Retainer being offered to Level One players is inferior in real terms to that which was in place last year. ZC have also removed perks such as vehicles, DSTV and BUPA, all of which were in place on the 2004-05 contracts.

Our position is that the monthly retainer is not a livable wage, especially when we do not have a guaranteed programme of international cricket ahead of us over the coming months. Subsequent discussions with ZC's MD Mr Bvute, has resulted in him proposing a reduction in the retainer from $Z20 Million to 15 Million.

Our question is this - if ZC will not or can not pay a living wage, how will they attract and as importantly, retain cricketers in the game? More than 30 National players have been lost to Zimbabwe cricket over the past three seasons. Is ZC concerned by this trend? The player base is already dangerously small. In the absence of a living wage, both aspiring and established cricketers will be forced to leave cricket and find alternative careers. The player base needs to be stimulated and expanded, otherwise it will disappear. ZC needs to recognize and protect this valuable resource. Without cricketers, there will be no cricket! Without premium cricketers, our national side will not be able to win matches against other international sides.

Full-time professional cricketers must be guaranteed adequate security for what is a short and risky career, in which they face the threat of injury, poor form and the vagaries of selection. Adequate security starts with a living wage. Performance packages are all well and good, but a realistic basic wage must be on offer in the first place. We maintain as Zimbabwean consumers that the retainers offered by ZC are not viable, when the effects of inflation and tax are taken into account.

ZC has not been able to provide a Player Budget for the 2005-06 year to support the retainers they are offering. Surely this should be available - how otherwise was it sanctioned by their Finance Committee?

7. If the player base is being reduced as is evident from the Contracts framework for 2005-06, is ZC Administration being similarly down-sized? Are payroll numbers in qdministration reducing or increasing? Under this heading, we include the separate but related issue of prioritization of spending by ZC.

This area is not one in which we are entirely comfortable asking questions, because we do not have all the relevant financial information and also because in a general sense we realize that this is an issue of corporate governance, falling within the realm of ZC "Cricket Operations". Having said that, if we as players are being told to tighten our belts, what is ZC itself as an administration doing in the same vein? What salaries are being paid by ZC to themselves? If it is deemed by ZC to be in the public interest to splash players salaries around the Press, then presumably they have no objection announcing their own? We look forward to receiving details.

On the issue of prioritization of spending by ZC, if it is true that ZC has purchased a new Outside Broadcast vehicle at a cost in excess of £1 million, when a OB Van could have been hired at a far smaller cost - we would question whether this is right and proper allocation of resources. Our concern is with items which impact directly on player performance, which we maintain need to be priority items on the shopping list of ZC - things we need to improve our performance in line with other international sides, like cricket balls, an assistant coach, a sports psychologist. ZC undertook to fund in full the costs of our Player Representative for 12 months, in order to allow us to get on with playing cricket. However, the incumbent Player Representative has received only one part-payment for services rendered since March 2005. This weakens our ability to bargain with ZC, and impedes our playing performance. We have faith in our Player Representative but if he is financially hampered from doing his job, this robs us of the external assistance we need in taking our concerns to ZC.

Further, what spending commitments can ZC show in the vital area of "cricket development"? After all, cricket is owned by the people and ZC as its custodian, must ensure that it is doing all possible within its means and budget to develop the game by appropriate and transparent allocation of resources. Performances of the national side must be built on a proper grassroots structure which gets our kids playing cricket and affords them opportunities to be properly coached and developed.

We are concerned that ZC should be held accountable for a set of performance criteria which measure its revenues and management of its finances in a transparent and responsible manner for the betterment of the game.

ZC has insisted that they are cash-strapped, yet the bulk of their revenue generation is foreign-exchange denominated. It follows that in the past two months ZC reserves have increased in Zim Dollar terms on the back of Central Bank devaluations (9600 to 1USD to 17500 to 1 USD to 24520 to 1USD).

This represents a cumulative 255% increase in reserves in the past two months alone.

1. The 2005-06 Contracts structure unveiled by the ZC is "radical", in the words of its Managing Director, Mr. Ozias Bvute. It establishes a new approach by ZC to the professional player resource which does not, we contend as players, properly understand or value the importance of this vital resource. The player base must be both large enough and skilful enough if strong competition is to be ensured. We would go as far as to state that the new structure actually threatens the future of cricket in this country.

2. Further, we maintain that professional cricketers should receive adequate financial compensation, to ensure player numbers at the very least can be stabilized at their current critically low numbers, and then, importantly, grow by attracting new blood. Simply speaking, if cricketers cannot guarantee themselves a living as professionals in the game, they will be lost from cricket. This is not a threat, it is an economic reality. Player numbers need to be guaranteed by a robust approach to this resource by ZC. Inflation mechanisms need to be addressed by ZC because we live in a hyperinflationary economy. We have offered a creative solution, working forward for 12 months. If ZC does not accept this, then they should offer a solution of their own. They must confront the reality of the situation.

ZC is the custodian of cricket, but cricket is owned by the people. Zimbabweans want our results to improve, so do we, and we believe that ZC do too. We share congruent objectives therefore. But strength and depth cannot be engendered in Zimbabwe cricket if professional cricketers, who must commit to work exclusively for ZC and play for their livelihood, are not guaranteed a living from the game. Cricket careers are short and risky. Adequate security must be on offer.

3. The arbitrary manner way in which ZC has withdrawn its intent to offer new contracts to three players, only a day after listing them as Level One, requires a reasoned response in the interests of harmonious employer/employee relations

In summary, although very concerned, nevertheless we see it as vital that we continue to play cricket while dialogue continues between ZPCA, our Player Representative and ZC. We desire to do well for Zimbabwe and thus to portray our nation in a good light on the cricket pitches of the world. Cricket is our life and we are proud to continue to represent our country, all we ask for is a work dispensation which is fair - which is to say, based on international cricketing norms - economically viable, and allows us to play cricket to the best of our ability at the highest level, on the international stage.

Thank you.

Clive Field
Zimbabwe Player Representative

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We feel welcome in Nigeria, say Zim farmers
    September 11 2005 at 03:01PM

By Peta Thornycroft

Piet du Toit is having the time of his life in Nigeria. "I go to bed tired after a hard day farming and get up the next morning, refreshed - ready to go again."

He and 12 former Zimbabwean farmers have planted 1 200 hectares of maize and soya beans in virgin land they have cleared since April in Kwara State, Nigeria.

The crops are tall and green and in straight lines. Even a few weeks of drought recently didn't do much damage because of the humidity.

'Inside, you are Africans like me'
"We have never seen so many new tractors in our lives. Some of us have never owned a new tractor. We feel welcome and are respected for what we are, farmers.

"When I qualify for citizenship, I will become a Nigerian," Du Toit, 52, said this week, back in Harare briefly for his daughter's wedding.
He is vice-chairman of the group invited to Nigeria by Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki, whose goal is to use the farmers to kick-start Nigeria's agriculture as 90 percent of the country's food is imported.

"He's a really good guy, visits us regularly, helps arrange finance, makes sure we have what we need," Du Toit said.

President Olusegun Obasanjo went to see the Zimbabwean farmers in their unique project 10 days ago. And what a day it was, judging by the photographs and videos brought back to Harare to show former colleagues in Zimbabwe.

'There is such a different atmosphere up there compared with Zimbabwe'
Banners and balloons, bunting and brass bands, emirs, federal ministers of finance and agriculture and, of course, Obasanjo himself, who flew over the new lands to inspect progress and entertained the farmers at a banquet.

Obasanjo told the group of farmers - whom he calls by their first names - that agriculture, unlike oil, is a renewable resource.

"I am a black man inside and outside and you are white men on the outside, but inside, you are Africans like me," Obasanjo told them.

It was music to their ears as they had been kicked off their farms in Zimbabwe over the past five years because they were white.

Du Toit came from Doma district in the Mashonaland West province and went through the usual round of fear, heartbreak and loss endured by most commercial farmers and their workers - beatings, days in police cells and, finally, violent eviction three years ago.

"I am not bitter any more. When the plane landed at Harare airport the other day, all I felt was sadness," he said. "I will be pleased to go home to Nigeria and the kids are coming up for Christmas."

Some of the group, average age 50, invited a few of their former Zimbabwean workers to join them, particularly tractor drivers now earning foreign currency and training Nigerians.

Du Toit and wives of the other members of the group shook their heads when listening to friends in Harare telling of the continuing hazards for the few hundred commercial farmers still remaining in Zimbabwe.

They heard the familiar tales of struggles for fuel, fertiliser and seed, and daily disruptions of farming routines from various competing groups within the ruling Zanu-PF.

With double the rain they are used to - 1 200mm annually, and average temperatures of a sweltering 40C - they plan to grow cash crops twice a year and develop horticulture, dairy, fish farming, poultry and vegetables.

Most of the group have nearly completed building houses with air-conditioning among groves of shady trees on their new, completely arable 1 000ha farms.

Their wives are to move to Kwara State to begin planting lawns and making curtains at the end of this month. They all have DSTV and soon, Vodacom will provide cellphone coverage in the district.

Du Toit estimated that the group would have covered start-up costs in three years and would be making "decent" money in five years, when every square metre of each farm had been developed.

"But it's not just about that. We are efficient and experienced, and we are valued and can make a difference," he said.

Plans are under way to open a training centre supported by the Zimbabweans for Kwara State farmers, to go beyond their present subsistence farming by growing surplus crops for sale.

Nigeria's new farmers sent for experts to help them get going. All are Zimbabweans - a plant pathologist, an irrigation engineer to advise on the logistics of pulling water from the mighty Niger River close to their Shonga district, and a mechanic to work the range of tractors and planters imported from Brazil.

Officials from Zimbabwe's beleaguered Commercial Farmers' Union travelled to meet Obasanjo in Abuja and in Kwara State during his visit, and check on their colleagues.

"I was truly impressed. They have done a fantastic job and it was hard to start from scratch. Getting used to the heat, living in tents, and they are not so young," said CFU President Doug Taylor-Freeme after his return from Nigeria this week. "There is such a different atmosphere up there compared with Zimbabwe."

Soon a couple of hundred cows from South Africa and Britain will be arriving in Kwara State for the first commercial dairy, already built, in Nigeria.

The group have 25-year, renewable leases on their land in a cluster of farms within a 12km radius previously owned by small-scale peasant farmers.

"There was bad feeling towards a couple of us at the beginning because the people had not been paid compensation. It wasn't about race, it was about money," Du Toit said.

He said those moved off to make way for the Zimbabweans had now been paid out and were given alternative land.

Du Toit said that so far, they had few security problems and were surprised to discover that the workers, who all have motorcycles and commute to their jobs from villages, don't drink because they are Muslims.

Jenny Swart, 53, goes to join her husband Dan, 60, in a few weeks. "I just wish we were younger, but the welcome we get is so very good for the soul," she said. "I am going to start a project, maybe catfish farming.

"We were tobacco farmers and in the old days, there was either a glut or something. Suddenly we are in a place where the market is huge and where we will sell everything we grow. There is poverty, but people working for us say their lives are getting better."

Zimbabwe's Minister of Agriculture, Joe Made, said this week, "I cannot comment on (this project) in Nigeria as I don't know about it." - Tribune Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 14 of Tribune on September 11, 2005
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